by Error Writes
There were many options I could’ve taken when Lucifer decided to sit across my table. I could’ve cut him down and fulfilled his wish from way back. I could’ve threatened to send more souls to Hell if he didn’t leave. Or I could’ve simply gone to another place for pizza. But I was too tired to move and didn’t care anymore.
The other customers fled the pizza shack when the flaming portal swirled into existence in front of the restroom. The two workers couldn’t do the same. The portal had cut off their exit, so their only option was to huddle in a corner behind piles of pizza boxes.
In modern times, Lucifer liked to present himself in a business suit. He had often mentioned how flattered he was that the humans portrayed him so stylish nowadays. Every now and then though, he’d put on some of his classic disguises. Today seemed to be one of those times, as the sounds of hooves clip clopped from the portal. He peeked out with a big grin on his face, brandishing a pair of horns on his forehead.
“Hi, Death,” he said, eyeing me up and down before sitting. “You look like a trainwreck.”
I didn’t respond. Instead, I focused on the pizza in front of me. Folded the big thing twice and chomped down on it like a burger.
“Had a baaad day?” he asked.
No words from me as I chewed. The pizza didn’t taste much, mostly dough and tomato sauce. There were some hints of garlic in there somewhere.
“Goat anything to tell me?” Lucifer tried.
“Stop it Lucy,” I said in between mouthfuls. “Not today.”
Our eyes met. His smile faded and his eyebrows wrinkled as he took a closer look at me. He gave a small nod as he moved a chair next to mine and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. Gentle fingers stroked my hair.
I thought about resisting but didn’t. His caress wasn’t disrupting my meal and I also found some joy in seeing the grease from my pizza splatter down his goat legs.
The dinner continued in silence, only disturbed by the tapping noise from one of Lucifer’s hooves and soft whimpers from the two workers. He continued stroking my hair while I wrestled with the folded pizza. From time to time, his mouth would open as if to say something but then close.
Lucifer had only seen me like this three times before, and we’ve known each other since the dawn of man. People were expected to have bad days, to get exhausted and drained, but not Death. Death was beyond that. What people often forgot was that Death wasn’t a single entity. There were many aspects of Death out there, each toiling away life from a certain batch.
Being the human aspect of Death didn’t only give me the visuals of a human, but also the emotions of one. Sure, thick skin and an ability to shrug off emotions are required in this line of work but sometimes things slip through. Sometimes I find myself hating what I’m doing with fiery passion, wondering why I had to end the life of a child or tear love apart. Sometimes, in really dark moments, I catch myself not caring at all.
The human brain had a great defence mechanism when it came to pain. When a certain threshold was reached, the brain shuts down. It goes to sleep and lets only the necessary parts function for a while.
From time to time, a millennium here or there, I would reach that limit for my emotions, where I need to simply shut down. Maybe like a computer rebooting.
I finished my pizza and licked my fingers. Lucifer cracked open a can of soda with one hand and pushed it toward me, his other hand still stroking my hair.
My eyes stared at the drink. I knew what it was but somehow it didn’t click for me. Was I thirsty? The question bounced a few times inside my head but didn’t bump into any answers.
“I hear sirens,” Lucifer said, as he craned his neck toward a window. “Want to go somewhere else? I know a great place with ice cream.”
Our eyes met again. His quivered.
“Or do you need some spirit for your spirit?” he said, covering his worried expression with a thin smile.
What did I want? Still no answers.
“Take your time,” he said.
Sirens wailed. Tires screeched against concrete. Confused mutters blended with shouts of panic. From the windows, lights of blue and red flickered. I couldn’t focus on the question, there were too many distractions.
Lucifer raised a hand. Chairs and tables levitated toward the entrance, barricading it. Pizza boxes zoomed past us and splattered themselves against the windows.
“Take your time,” Lucifer repeated. “As much as you want.”
The pizza boxes blocked the flickering red and blue. The noises had been muffled, and something finally clicked.
“Ice cream,” I said.
Lucifer nodded and snapped his fingers. The flaming portal in front of the restroom approached and enveloped us in bright light and warmth. A rush of vertigo signaled that we were transported to another place, leaving behind two confused workers in the pizza shack to explain what happened to the cops.